Outta Sight The Sheepdogs
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- 1Here I Am02:46
- 2Find the Truth02:53
- 3I Wanna Know You03:30
- 4Waiting for Your Call02:19
- 5Carrying On03:10
- 6So Far Gone03:43
- 7Scarborough Street Fight04:30
- 8Mama Was a Gardener03:28
- 9Goddamn Money03:45
- 10Didn't I03:27
- 11Roughrider '8903:59
Info for Outta Sight
Hailing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the Sheepdogs are a hardworking, hard-living, straightup rock ‘n’ roll band who return with Outta Sight, the grooviest, simplest, most penetrating album of their career. Recorded during the pandemic the band—Ewan Currie, Ryan Gullen, Sam Corbett, Jimmy Bowskill and Shamus Currie—were, like the rest of us, confused, cast ashore, and feeling isolated during COVID. Their response was to do what came most naturally to them: making stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll.
“It’s a weird world. Everybody stuck in place, overthinking absolutely everything. We wanted to avoid all that—just get in the room, plug in your guitar and go. So that’s what we did,” says singer Ewan Currie, who cut most of the album’s tracks in three takes. “Themes like optimism in the face of adversity, standing tall and staying strong, knowing that better times are around the corner kept coming through when making the record and it felt really damned good to play.”
Responding to the pandemic—the fear, the lack of income for a group that earns their living playing hundreds of annual shows—the Sheepdogs did what was instinctual to them since they started jamming like they did in their teens. With no roadmap and an overall uncertainty hanging over the universe, the band got in a circle, plugged into their amps, shared riffs and melodies and leaned on each other. The guys say it was the least prepared they’ve been cutting a record since their self-titled album in 2012. Bassist Ryan Gullen calls the music they made a life raft.
“Those first sessions saved us from our anxieties—like, when there’s nothing you can do and no one knows what’s happening, playing rock music kept us grounded, kept us going,” says Gullen, adding that this record is the freest he felt since performing his band’s 2006 debut, Trying to Grow. “We’ve developed this ability to gut check one another about what’s working. Not in the sense, ‘Is this song going to be a radio hit?’ We’re not playing that game, but over all these years, we’re happy to put our head down and grind. What you see is what we are. We’re not pretending. We make music we like because it’s important to us.”
Despite their incredible legacy which includes #1 songs, gold and platinum albums, countless sold-out tours and landing the cover of Rolling Stone, the group never put on airs and never stopped trusting each other—getting better at their craft and performing before as many fans as they could reach around the world.
On Outta Sight, a barnburner that finds the band back to its roots after the psychedelic exploration of Changing Colours, the music is instinctive, groove-based and fundamental: no over-thinking muddling the riffs. Songs like I Wanna Know You and Scarborough Street Fight appeal to the senses. Its feel-good music made to help them, and the listener, celebrate life.
“The band still operates under the same principle we were founded on: dudes who like to rock, making rock music that sounds like what we like to listen to because there’s nothing like that around us,” adds Gullen, who says there’s a vibe, not a concept, driving his record. “Recording time is usually so preciously slotted between being on the road, but this time, when there was no road, things evolved naturally. We worked out a song until it felt good and then recorded it, the songs benefiting from the pressure being taken off guys who love playing to each other’s strengths.”
The strength of the Sheepdogs in full throttle straight-up appeals to your senses. Without pretension, it’s urgent, rhythmic, clear, fun; it’s a break from slick production and gazing at your navel and proclaims the joy, jubilation, of drums, bass, horns, and electric guitar. The Sheepdogs make tunes that make you nod your head. The artistry, however, beneath the stadium riffs—the harmonies, the multiple guitar parts, the groove behind a rhythm section that hangs out together when they’re not on the clock—is battle-honed and spit-shined between vans, garages, thousands of soundchecks and, yes, headlining shows.
“A no-bullshit approach, a workmanlike ability to put our heads down and play resulted in a real feeling and vibe on the record that I think is special,” says Currie. “It’s something that just might have saved us and the feeling on the album is us taking that negative pandemic energy and expressing it, transferring it, through non-bummer straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll.”
Outta Sight is the biggest, brightest, beer-swillingest, lighters lit in the cheap seats, non-bummer COVID stadium rock record to emerge from the pandemic blues. It’s got humour, it’s got chops, and it’s performed and recorded by five brothers from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who are grateful to get together and play for rock fans.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll is about cheering us up. Simple as that,” says Currie. “We hope our music does the same for the listeners at a time where things still can feel very tough. There’s no greater truth than rock ‘n’ roll.”
The Sheepdogs built their name on hard work and determination. Having funded their first three albums and early years of touring on their own, this rock and roll band’s momentum began to build exponentially with the release of the 2010 album, Learn & Burn. The band would go on to win three 2012 JUNO Awards (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy): New Group of the Year, Single of the Year and Rock Album of the Year. With a list of accolades this impressive the band is on the brink of engaging fans on a wider scale.
The Sheepdogs will do just that with the release of their new self-titled album, produced by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and Austin Scaggs, which will genuinely introduce them to the U.S. and beyond.
Hailing from the small Canadian town of Saskatoon, SK, The Sheepdogs won an international competition in 2011 securing them the cover of Rolling Stone, making the group the first unsigned band to appear on its front page. The win, decided by 1.5 million public votes, also scored them a record deal with Atlantic, which offered up a new EP from the band, Five Easy Pieces, in August 2011.
After the band was introduced to Carney at Petty Fest in New York last year, he immediately began offering ideas for The Sheepdogs next album (“He seemed strangely passionate about it,” Currie notes). The hope was that Carney could actually produce the album. In January, Carney invited the band to the studio, where they culled together old material and quickly began laying down new ideas.
“I think different albums have processes and this was a different experience for us, but that’s part of what makes it interesting,” Currie said. “We wanted to just go with the flow and make the album that represented where we are now. We were rushed into the studio, but you can let that pressure destroy you or you can let that pressure galvanize you, and I think it was a positive force. Having that tight time structure, buckling down and doing music all day every day was great.”
Although the band had only spent those two and a half weeks with Carney, Scaggs and studio engineer Roger Moutenot in Nashville’s Haptown Studios, the sessions proved fruitful. From the first single “The Way It Is,” a thumping, blues-tinged track, to rollicking stomper “Feeling Good,” the album embraces a vast range of influences, pulling in various styles and genres to create a collection of raucous, unabashed rock and roll numbers. A pensive reflection is threaded throughout, whether on mid-tempo acoustic track “Laid Back” or on pounding rocker “While We’re Young.”
“I think Patrick has a good sense of no bullshit,” Currie says. “A lot of making rock and roll is about cutting the fat and being a good filter. In the studio, he helped us refine the songs and found the best representation of each one possible. Plus, we wanted to be able to incorporate all different styles and I think our albums run the gamut.”
After touring steadily since 2006 and spending the last year entirely on the road with bands like Kings of Leon, John Fogerty and Robert Randolph & the Family Band, The Sheepdogs hoped to create songs that would lend themselves to their impassioned performances. The band, which has also performed at numerous festivals, including Coachella, Bonnaroo and SXSW, enlisted a keyboard player as the new album features a heavy dose of Hammond organ and Rhodes piano.
In the end it all ties back to the group’s goals, which essentially involve making really good rock songs, and you don’t need a crazy origin story to do that.
“Our goal is two-fold,” Currie says. “We want to make killer albums that people really want to listen to, but we also want to have a really reputable live show. When we come through town we want to be the hottest ticket there. Those two elements are what make a truly great rock and roll band. Really, though, we just want to play to anyone who is willing to give us a shot and who wants to have a good time.”
This album contains no booklet.